A compact cutie, Vancouver on Canada's west coast will get you living the good life
Vancouver – or ‘the Couve’ if you’re around locals and think you can pull it off – is one of Canada’s real treasures.
The biggest city on the west coast,
Vancouver‘s setting on English Bay is stunning with its skyline of glass-fronted skyscrapers crowned by the peaks of the North Shore Mountains. With sea and mountains dominating the local geography, the opportunities to get outdoors are endless, and you don’t have to go far to really savour them.
is very much a feel-good, laidback, casual city which consistently tops quality of life polls. It’s all about enjoying life; the saying “When in Rome…” has never applied more so than with our top recommendations.
### 1. Have your fill at Granville Island Public Market
Fresh produce and food-laden stalls abound at the indoor farmers’ market on Granville Island. As local Colleen Kelly suggests, “pick what your heart desires” for a picnic lunch before jumping aboard a water taxi and heading across the False Creek to eat al fresco and listen to live music on Sunset Beach.
![Granville Island Public Market © Flightlog/Flickr](http://content.skyscnr.com/624c0b77c19805f5d0c9117afd7aa7a2/flightlog_granville_edit.jpg)
### 2. Cruise along the Sea to Sky
For all petrol heads, Highway 99, or the Sea to Sky Highway, takes some beating. Much as its name suggests, it’s a 78 mile road stretching from the shore in Vancouver to Squamish and Whistler in the Coast Mountain range at an altitude of 2,200 feet. It’s one of the most beautiful drives you’re likely to experience. If you’d rather appreciate more of the views during the summer, let the train take the strain. The **[Whistler Mountaineer train](http://www.whistlerreservations.com/summer-activities/whistler-mountaineer?gclid=CjwKEAjwg7yqBRCu5NmlgMm6i08SJADDEudZ-g1JzlxHYsVozoTxq1ENN9FauxxjbjWSKKuMYX20xRoC2v_w_wcB)** takes to you to the mountain town at a slower pace of 3 hours in a mixture of open-air carriages or enclosed ones with large sky windows to better appreciate the area’s wild beauty.
![Sea to Sky Highway at dusk © Kyle Pearce/Flickr](http://content.skyscnr.com/219def657facd36ac66ede47aa0c5980/kyle_pearce_sea_to_sky_highway_edit.jpg)
### 3. From skiing to sunbathing in minutes
Vancouver hosted the Winter Olympics in 2010 with all the skiing action taking place in the mountains beyond the city in Whistler. As one of the major venues for the games, **[Whistler Blackcomb](http://www.whistlerblackcomb.com)** ski resort is the largest skiable area in North America and offers more than 200 runs to challenge your skills. With a season that stretches into May for spring skiing and snowboarding and mid-June for summer glacier skiing, you can hit the piste in the morning and be back in Vancouver to soak up the sun on the beach in the afteroon.
![Whistler Blackcomb resort © Perfect Zero/Flickr](http://content.skyscnr.com/4b4dabd1c17b65d2f5efca1c476bffbc/perfect_zero_whistler_edit.jpg)
### 4. Bard on the Beach
For the culture vulture keen on both sonnets and sun,**[ Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival](http://bardonthebeach.org)** is the perfect combination. With a programme running from early June to September, it’s one of Canada’s biggest not-for-profit festivals. With two purpose built tents in Vanier Park on the waterfront, theatre-goers can watch the actors perform Shakespeare’s works against a stunning backdrop of sea and mountains.
![The 2014 Bard on the Beach production of the Tempest © Bard on the Beach/Flickr](http://content.skyscnr.com/c6251841201e038d08647302a2db492b/the_tempest_edit.jpg)
### 5. Exploring Gastown
The spot where the city’s original settlers first put down roots, Gastown is the oldest neighbourhood in the great city of Vancouver. Nearly all the buildings in the quarter have heritage designation, so you get a real flavour of the old city from the surrounding environs. Part of Vancouver’s cultural and historic fabric, Gastown, with its many award-winning restaurants, edgy galleries and indie fashion boutiques, is a must for any visitor.
![Gastown at night © Kenny Louie/Flickr](http://content.skyscnr.com/99479b42b1860c8e408fbbdc8af65c6a/kenny_louie_gastown_edit.jpg)
### 6. Feast for the eyes and the stomach
To really push the boat out, opting for a gourmet meal with a view just as breathtaking as the dishes in front of you is always a good call. **[The Observatory](https://grousemountain.com/the-observatory-restaurant)** restaurant on Grouse Mountain, the peak directly above Vancouver, is accessed by a gondola which takes you to the top where you can drink in the panoramic vista of Vancouver and English Bay.
### 7. Richmond Night Market
With the largest Asian community in North America, Vancouver’s Richmond district offers up a culturally diverse and culinary delightful experience. Taking place every Friday to Sunday evening from mid-May to October, hop on the SkyTrain to Bridgeport Station for the Richmond Night Market. It’s an assault on the senses with the smells of fantastic foods tempting you from every quarter. It truly is a sight to behold. Of course, you eat with your eyes too so dig in.
![Richmond Night Market © Shinsuke Ikegame](http://content.skyscnr.com/89402d77ab814a1a2fb592aaed112901/richmond_market_shinsuke_ikegame_edit.jpg)
### How to get there
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### Where to stay
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